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Enterprise Cloud Deployment: State of the Market Benchmark Report

Digital transformation and the deployment of applications in the cloud has been a key topic of discussion within the enterprise software market for several years but that conversation has been accelerated by the global events of 2020. Organizations whose workforces had been entirely on-site have had to quickly convert to a remote work environment. Many...

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The Case for Automation in Procure to Pay

An Interview with xSuite North America CEO Danny Schaarmann

By Rizal Ahmed, Chief Content Officer, SAPinsider

Automation has been a major buzzword in tech and business circles for years. Is now finally the time for SAP customers to apply this technology for significant and tangible gain?

The Enterprise Moves Forward with Automation

Automation is climbing the list of priorities for tech and business professionals, and many enterprise organizations have already dipped their toes in the water, finds recent SAPinsider research.

SAPinsider’s “Integrating Process Automation and SAP S/4HANA,” published In June, found that 65% of respondents have already started applying some sort of automation technology within their business. Over 50% of those respondents are focusing automation efforts in finance while more than 40% are leveraging automation to support supply chain processes.

SAPinsider was able to delve deeper into the drivers and use cases for automation in finance and procurement when we sat down with Danny Schaarmann, CEO and President of xSuite North America, a leading automation partner.

Why Automation Now

Schaarmann says the topic of automation is not new and the basic technology has been around for years. What is different today is the ease in which you can apply automation technology without heavy custom coding or integration. This makes automation technology much more available to organizations.

“SAP is already an automated and digital system in many ways. But now you can put technology and solutions on top of this foundation to eliminate much of the manual work and integration that you have today,” Schaarmann says.

One of xSuite’s specialties is automating the end-to-end procure-to-pay (P2P) process which most organizations support. There are a number of inefficiencies and tedious manual work that most companies have to deal with when it comes to P2P. The complexity arises in the fact that each vendor typically has its own document formats and standards that must be reconciled by procurement and accounts payable teams.

This is where xSuite comes in. Their data capture and optical recognition technology enables companies to take different data and document formats and automatically map that data into a company’s system to avoid the need to rekey data. xSuite also provides portals and intelligence to help digitize partner interaction as well as to monitor and manage exceptions that arise within the process.

The Automation Payoff

It’s not just the availability of technology that’s driving the investment, says Schaarmann. There’s a real opportunity to improve the efficiency and cost savings of the organization. Schaarmann estimates that the average company spends $20 to process every invoice and that $5-$6 per invoice is best in class. That gives you an idea of the potential impact that both automation and best practices can return to an organization when you carry these costs over hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions, of invoices. “The biggest source of cost is in data entry. “That’s why most of these automation projects originate at the controller or business process management layer,” reports Schaarmann.

Radiant Global is one of xSuite’s key customer references. Radiant has leveraged xSuite to automate more than two million invoices on an annual basis. Schaarmann describes another organization who struggled with processing invoices during the COVID crisis due to the nature of remote working. They worked with xSuite to implement OCR in under one month to help automate the distribution of invoices. “This client processes over 200,000 invoices a year with 15-16 AP clerks sitting at home. If they can’t work remotely, you can imagine the backlog and impact that has,” Schaarmann says.

The other benefit of automation is that it enables organizations to elevate the focus and duties of the typical AR or AP clerk. “Most companies have teams of data entry clerks either within their organization or as a part of a shared service function that they outsource. Automation is not just about cutting staff but also redeploying employees that focus on the strategic aspects of the process and managing exceptions and optimization,” says Schaarmann.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

So now that automation technology is readily available. How do you take your first steps if you are relatively new or advance your strategy if you have already launched some initial projects.?

  • Open up your mindset when it comes to change. Automation on its own is just one step, and it only works if you are open to challenging what you believe to be your best practices and standard way of doing things. Many organizations tend to get caught up in the “That’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality, which can stop automation projects from fully realizing their benefits. xSuite spends a tremendous amount of time in workshops with the business processes to better understand how companies are executing their processes, and then that makes it easier for them to understand the current state and suggest “best practice” solutions.
  • Measure the cost of doing nothing: One of the first things organizations need to do is to have a solid understanding of what it’s costing them currently to execute their current processes and procure-to-pay. Based on that you can use conversations with experts like xSuite and other organizations to understand what is “best in class” when it comes to the cost to support those processes with room for improvement.
  • Put your most experienced process people at the heart of your automation project: While consultants and partners like xSuite can bring a tremendous amount of experience to the table, it’s important to have members of your business process team to help guide the application of automation to the right pain points. Those AP clerks with decades of experience can really help you understand where things need to change.
  • Take the time to select the right partner. Partners like xSuite have spent years building up their expertise and working with customers across the process and industry spectrum. You have to find the best experts that can and want to understand your current business and suggest both process-based and technology-based improvements.that can enhance your current state. “It’s not about the technology. You need to find the right tailor who understands how to create the suit you need, not the one that’s going to focus on the materials for that suit,” summarizes Schaarmann.

ABOUT xSuite

For the last 26 years, xSuite has provided global organizations with solutions and services to help automate core end-to-end business processes such as procure-to-pay.  xSuite has implemented over 1,200 automation projects in its history, with well over half of them focused on companies that run SAP. xSuite is a global company with more than 200 employees and 13 offices worldwide.



The Traditional Org Chart Has Evolved

The static org charts of the past are being replaced by flexible solutions that model, analyze, and monitor organizational effectiveness

By AJ Whalen, Vice President and Publisher

For many years, the org chart has been used by HR leaders to present a graphical representation of an organization’s structure that illustrated reporting relationships, headcount distribution, and chains of command across the company. As HR technology has evolved, traditional org chart creation processes have begun to be replaced by new tools that are not only more efficient in generating charts, but also offer more advanced modeling and analytical capabilities.

The Current State of Workforce Visualization

Customers of SAP ERP HCM (on-premise) have long been faced with a dilemma when it came to their organizational structures. The on-premise SAP HCM solution provides a very flexible, object-oriented organizational management capability that enables them to build structures that mirror their organization and to use custom objects and relationships to depict more complex hierarchies. The challenge, however, comes when they want to visualize or analyze their organizational structures. Many resort to creating queries that extract data for use in external applications like Microsoft Visio.

SAP SuccessFactors customers, on the other hand, can use the Company Structure Overview in Employee Central to view their organization from a structural perspective (legal entities, business units, divisions, departments, etc.), giving them more flexibility when planning, displaying, and modifying structures.

Despite advances in delivered functionality like the Company Structure Overview, customers who wish to incorporate more advanced modeling, KPI tracking, and analytical capabilities into their org chart process often look to third-party applications, especially SAP Endorsed Apps. One such provider of workforce modeling and organizational visualization solutions is the German-based Ingentis. SAPinsider recently spoke with solution experts from Ingentis about workforce visualization, modeling, and analysis and the trends they’re seeing from customers across the globe.

The Org Chart as a Strategic Tool

According to Ingentis’ Markos Tafakis, many customers who come to Ingentis are initially looking for more automated and accurate org charts. “When I ask about pain points, I would say that 90% of customers I speak with say they still create charts in Visio and PowerPoint,” said Tafakis. While the need for efficiency and accuracy is a common primary driver for many new Ingentis customers, Markos Tafakis says he is also seeing a trend that goes beyond just automation. According to Ingentis, more companies today are looking for flexibility to create org charts for agile or project-based structures. “In the last 12 to 18 months, more and more companies want to visualize project-based structures or agile structures,” said Tafakis. As project structures like the Spotify model – an approach for scaling agile that emphasizes autonomy, communication, accountability, and quality in work streams – become more popular, the desire to track and visualize project-based teams is increasing. This trend requires a data model that has the appropriate structures and a workforce visualization tool that is flexible enough to generate the necessary structure views.

While companies are looking to display different types of structures today, perhaps the biggest change in workforce visualization solutions in recent years has been the transformation of org charts from static displays to strategic tools through the integration of calculations, key figures, metrics, and analytics into the charts. Rather than simply creating a snapshot of an organizational entity, solutions like Ingentis org.manager enable users to incorporate additional data into the charts to display metrics like headcount and vacancies or to go even further and output calculations and analyses based on real-time data in the charts. This means that an org chart can be used to monitor key KPIs like diversity, demographics, or even budget compliance. By including key workforce analytics in the charts, HR organizations are not only offering more visibility into their own performance, but they are enabling business leaders to be more proactive in monitoring and managing critical business measures across the company.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

Workforce visualization tools have transformed from structural displays to strategic tools over the last decade. How should you determine whether your organization is ready to take advantage of the more advanced planning, modeling, and analytical capabilities they can offer?

  • Consider your entire HR landscape, including workflows, when changing your data structures to support your org visualization efforts. “It’s not about setting up the structure once and then it will be there forever,” said Tafakis. You should implement a data model that you will be able to maintain for many years and one that will not limit existing processes, workflows, or future structure changes.
  • Carefully decide how you wish to visualize your organization and to whom you wish to expose the charts. One of the benefits of workforce visualization tools is that they allow you to create different views for different audiences. For example, you may create executive charts that contain key KPIs and metrics but produce a different, more traditional hierarchy chart for your general employee population. You should spend the time to identify the different audiences and data requirements for each chart before you begin the process.
  • Identify the most critical workforce-related KPIs and measurements that impact your business.One of the biggest advantages of a true workforce visualization solution is the ability to provide transparency into the HR measures that are most important. Before adopting a solution like Ingentis org.manager, assess your KPIs and the data required to monitor and measure your results to see if you will be able to take advantage of the more strategic analytical capabilities the tool can provide.
  • Take the time to assess the workforce visualization tools you already have in your on-premise HCM solution or in SAP SuccessFactors. Before you begin, carefully look at standard tools like the Company Structure Overview in Employee Central to see if they meet your needs and compare that with the benefits a third-party SAP Endorsed App like Ingentis org.manager can provide. Speak with solution experts at Ingentis to get a better understanding of the added value of their solution as well as the potential effort required to realize the full benefits.

About Ingentis

Headquartered in Germany, Ingentis produces software add-ons for both on-premise SAP HCM and SAP SuccessFactors customers. Ingentis’ flagship product, Ingentis org.manager, is an org chart and workforce modeling solution used by more than 1,500 customers globally. Ingentis org.manager for SAP SuccessFactors is an SAP Endorsed App and is currently available in the SAP App Center.



SAP Announces Q3 Financial Results

Cloud Numbers Improve But 2020 Guidance Reduced

by Robert Holland, VP Research, SAPinsider

 

Despite initial expectations of a decrease in revenue in Q2 of 2020 followed by a gradual improvement in Q3, SAP today announced that their overall revenue for the quarter decreased 4% and that their IFRS operating profit decreased 12%. However, while the numbers this quarter were lower, overall revenue year to date was still up 1% year over year.

 

SAP Q3 2020 numbers

 

Software Revenue, Total Revenue, & Profit Fall

While SAP sought to emphasize its continued and accelerated transition to the cloud and has increased its target for cloud revenue to €22 billion by 2025, there was a negative market reaction to the numbers from the German software maker.

Total Revenue decreased 4% year over year in both IFRS and non-IFRS reporting to €6,535 million, Cloud and Software Revenue decreased 2% year over year in IFRS and non-IFRS to €5,5444 million, but the biggest drop was a 12% IFRS reduction in operating profit to €1,473 million (1% in non-IFRS). At the same time Cloud Revenue increased by 11% IFRS (10% non-IFRS) to €1,984 million, though this obviously did not offset the reduction in overall software revenue.

All of these metrics increased for the first nine months of 2020 as a whole, with IFRS Cloud Revenue increasing by 18% year to date, but the numbers for the quarter show that the global economy has not yet begun the recovery that SAP had expected.

 

A Deeper Examination

Looking at the specific numbers, SAP only reported details for four segments within the organization: Applications, Technology & Support; Concur; Qualtrics; and Services. The only one of those four segments that showed an increased in revenue in Q3 was Qualtrics, which improved by 22% to €169 million year over year. While important, this was offset by the 16% reduction in Services revenue, 14% reduction in Concur revenue, and 2% reduction in Applications, Technology & Support revenue (the largest area by far representing 78% of total revenue). This reduction in services revenue aligns with both research and conversations SAPinsider has had with many customers transitioning to SAP S/4HANA who are spending much of 2020 planning for the future unless they already had projects underway, and is consistent with a reduction in services revenue globally especially as seen with organizations like Accenture and Deloitte.

In the cloud, where SAP reported significant growth, the quarterly statement indicated that there was a 7% reduction in cloud revenue in the Intelligent Spend group (SAP Ariba, SAP Concur, and SAP Fieldglass), with the reduction in Concur revenues having the largest impact on that number. Given that Concur facilitates travel and expense management, that reduction in revenue can be explained by the lack of business travel this year. On the positive side, SAP saw an increase in 21% in actual currency in other SaaS and PaaS revenue to €1,127 million, and a 19% increase in IaaS cloud revenue to €208 million. This indicates that the biggest cloud growth areas for SAP were in areas like SAP SuccessFactors and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.

SAP also stated that over 500 SAP S/4HANA customers were added during the quarter which took the adoption total to over 15,100 customers. This is a 20% increase in those running SAP S/4HANA at the same point in 2019, with approximately 8,100 (53.6%) of these customers reported as being live. Of those new customers added this quarter around 45% were net new. While this is a positive sign for adoption of the product outside the existing enterprise ERP landscape, which SAP has previously stated is approximately 45,000 customers, it may also indicate that adoption of SAP S/4HANA within that landscape is slower than expected even though SAPinsider has seen a steady increase in those reporting that they have completed the transition to SAP S/4HANA.

Regionally, SAP reported “resilient performance” in the EMEA region, the only region that saw growth in both cloud and software revenue this quarter. Stating “solid performance” in the Americas and APJ, both regions saw a decrease in cloud and software revenues with only modest growth in cloud revenues (14% in EMEA and only 3% in the Americas). With the US market being the largest globally for SAP, and with many organizations delaying investment due to ongoing market uncertainty, it is no surprise that growth was lower than expected in this region compared to EMEA where many organizations returned to more normal operations during the quarter.

As a response to these results, SAP has updated its business outlook for the remainder of 2020. SAP expects full year operating profit to be in the €8.1—8.5 billion range, a reduction of approximately €200 million, and total revenue to be between €27.2 and 27.8 billion, a reduction of €600—700 million. Even with the continued growth of cloud revenue in Q3, SAP also expects cloud revenue to end up slightly below earlier predictions at €8.0—8.2 billion, a reduction of €300-500 million from the previous guidance provided in April.

 

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

SAP’s overall performance continues to be greatly impacted by the global pandemic, as is the case with many organizations around the world. What remains to be seen is whether the extended pandemic continues to have a negative effect into Q4, or whether things will improve. To be prepared for whatever happens, SAPinsiders should:

  • Look for SAP to continue to push cloud adoption. Alongside the quarterly results, SAP also released a strategy update titled “Accelerating Our Customers’ Business Transformation in the Cloud”, which demonstrates that SAP sees the cloud as the path it needs to take and where it wants customers to be from both an adoption and investment perspective. No matter what your current infrastructure and product usage, SAP will continue to push cloud adoption.
  • Expect further emphasis on the transition to SAP S/4HANA. While SAP has shown continued growth in those purchasing SAP S/4HANA, adoption within the existing customer base has only been some of that growth. Even though SAPinsider research has shown that many customers see the benefits that SAP S/4HANA offers from a functionality perspective, the cost of that transition can be expensive. SAP will continue to emphasize this transition and enterprise ERP customers in particular should expect an emphasis on determining their plans for the product.
  • Continue to leverage SAP’s focus on the customer. At the beginning of 2020, SAP emphasized the fact that it is focused on the customer. While that message may have been somewhat lost in everything that has happened in 2020, SAP has continued to make customer focus an emphasis. Use this to your advantage during your day to day interactions with your SAP contacts.
  • Educate yourself around the current SAP strategy. SAPinsider is hosting our EMEA virtual event from November 17-19, which includes global summits on SAP S/4HANA and Supply Chain. Attendance is free to registered users, and you will have the opportunity to hear from those inside and outside SAP on current strategy, as well as what you need to make your 2021 plans successful.


A Fireside Chat with SAP Experts About SAP S/4HANA

Webinar - On-Demand

Customers have many questions and concerns when considering the migration from SAP ECC 6 to SAP S/4 HANA. Join us in this fireside chat where SAP experts will share their experiences working with SAP S/4HANA customers. In addition to explaining how the next-generation software offers benefits around financial agility and improving volatile supply chains, experts will answer questions such as: How do I get started? How do I get buy-in? How do I deploy in a remote environment? Join this fireside chat to gain expert advice on moving from ECC 6 to SAP S/4HANA. You will learn about:

  • Best practice SAP S/4HANA decision making and implementation
  • Strong resources to help in decision making and implementation
  • Business benefits and compelling differentiation of SAP S/4HANA



Align Personalized Experiences with Data Privacy: 5 Steps for Customer Trust Success

Webinar – Now Available On-Demand

A trusted customer relationship is much more than acquiring a loyal following or a steady revenue stream. It’s the foundation that compels customers to share more of their data, so businesses can derive insights into unmet needs, evolving beliefs, and new behaviors across the marketplace.

But trust must be earned. Proper data management responsibility from privacy, accountability, ethics and more are critical elements. Regulation such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California’s (USA) Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Brazil’s General Data Protection Law (LGPD), and others are in place to help.  But with such a critical and complex challenge, how should companies ensure they can build individualized experiences, and still warrant that they can meet the individual data rights introduced by these new privacy regulations.

Join us for a panel discussion to learn how to build transparency into data collection and sharing, and ensure accountability for those customer promises.

  • Treat customers as trusted individuals
  • Collect consent and preference transparently
  • Manage data responsibly, ethically and compliantly
  • Put customers in control of their data
  • Turn data insights into meaningful action
Watch Now

Receivables Optimization 101: Migration to SAP S/4HANA and the Cloud

Webinar

Tuesday, December 1 | 11:00 AM EDT

Transformation of order-to-cash can make an organization more efficient, but many customers struggle with how to leverage technology solutions to effect change. Those considering adding a bolt-on cloud solution to SAP S/4HANA for better management of receivables will wonder whether should they deploy the cloud solution during, before, or after their migration, and will seek advice on what other factors should they look for in a cloud solution to determine if it’s a good fit for their business.

Depending on scale of operations, ERP set-up, or budget factors, Accounts Receivable (A/R) managers need to develop a comprehensive checklist to understand if they are in the correct position to deploy cloud in conjunction with the SAP S/4HANA migration, or if they need to wait until  the completion of the migration project.

This presentation will provide an objective comparison of features and functions that AI-powered cloud solutions offer on top of the SAP S/4HANA model and will discuss different strategies for SAP S/4HANA migration and where cloud solutions could fit in the migration approach.

Webinar attendees will be empowered to:

  • Understand the capabilities of bolt-on cloud solutions for receivables management, and how they create value in addition to ERP-based solutions
  • Plan the right time for cloud deployment based on progress in the SAP S/4HANA migration journey
  • Identify the parameters and features to look for in a cloud solution that enables “complete” transformation of their A/R, delivering high value in less time with minimal disruption
Register Now

How Will I Be of Service to SAP Customers Each Day?

Kelly Herod, Deloitte Consulting’s US SAP Practice Leader, Shares Her Philosophy on Leadership and Her Current Priorities to Help the SAP Ecosystem Achieve Business Value

As a Principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, Kelly Herod leads global SAP business transformations. Specifically, she leverages her finance and technology background to optimize companies’ finance processes, transform their shared services organizations, and implement next-generation technologies.

In addition to serving her clients, Herod leads Deloitte Consulting‘s US SAP Practice. Prior to her current role, she held numerous leadership roles within Deloitte Consulting including SAP Finance Practice Leader, Mid-America SAP Leader, and SAP Alliance Leader. Most recently, she led the US SAP Assets and Innovation team, which worked on creative initiatives to reimagine the future of SAP. After her success with that team, in June 2020, Herod moved into her new position as US SAP Practice Leader amid an unprecedented global pandemic. After completing 100 days on the job, Herod spoke with SAPinsider about what Deloitte Consulting’s US SAP Practice has been doing to help SAP customers. In the following Q&A, which is a summary of this conversation, she shares her perspective as the head of this practice as well as her personal views as a leader and a woman in the SAP space.

Q: What are the top priorities you are focused on in your new role at Deloitte?

From a short-term goal perspective, we have made a rapid pivot to a fully virtual business model. Over the last couple of years, we had been on a journey within Deloitte to transform our operating and talent models. This included reimagining how we think about around-the-clock working environments and teams and where people need to be based. So, when we encountered COVID-19 in 2020, we were ready and able to quickly evolve. And now we are even speeding up some initiatives we had originally planned for later in this fiscal year or next year, because we have demonstrated that we can be flexible with our on and offsite work models to create the best value for our clients.

For the long term, we are focused on  helping our clients activate the “Kinetic Enterprise.” While in the past, technology solutions and processes were “built to last,” the future is about solutions and processes that are “built to evolve.” With technology changing faster than ever before, businesses themselves must be built to evolve — or “kinetic” — with the technology and solutions as the dynamic underlying infrastructure. For us, a Kinetic Enterprise has four pillars:

  • Clean: It runs with a clean core or ERP system and minimal technical debt — not tremendous amounts of custom code.
  • Intelligent: It leverages its data and solutions, including SAP technologies, to build intelligence and insights — to drive automation, service, new efficiencies, and growth.
  • Responsive: It relies on a cloud-enabled environment that allows it to expand and contract as needed, pivoting as necessary.
  • Inclusive: It operates with a complete, connected ecosystem of applications, services, and capabilities — beyond just the SAP core — to support more effective business processes and rapid innovation.

Q: Have you seen any recurring themes, shifts, or challenges (aside from COVID-19) in bringing that Kinetic Enterprise strategy to life for clients?

In light of the end-of-maintenance date for SAP ECC shifting from 2025 to 2027, the number one question I hear most executives grappling with is when and how to start their SAP S/4HANA implementation, including what order they should bring their business onto the solution and defining the business value. To address this, we have been bringing to market additional business value and business case solutions — in particular, for clients that have been on older SAP versions. Through these solutions, we take a look under the hood of what clients currently have, create a heat map of the business value opportunities, and translate that into hard-dollar savings that can be achieved, which can help fund their transformation journey to SAP S/4HANA.

The bottom line is that SAP implementations and transformations are changing. It’s no longer a once-and-done type of project. In response, there has been a lot of effort put forth to address that and make the implementation experience more efficient. For instance, Deloitte came up with a “touchless build” concept where the technology does the work so that instead of putting energy into how to execute the implementation, people can focus on how to get the desired business value from the software and transform the business.

Taking into account all those challenges, along with the technology advances around SAP S/4HANA, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud technology, Deloitte has launched a brand-new solution called “Kinetic Finance Startup” where the machines do the heavy lifting for a Central Finance implementation of SAP S/4HANA. From day one, the solution connects to your existing finance systems, extracts your data, harmonizes it, and over a weekend configures a net-new implementation of the SAP solution — all at the touch of a button. So, when we come in to meet with you on Monday, we are looking at a real-life system with your data. That’s powerful because it not only addresses all those pain points — by decreasing the amount of time needed to do the full program, reducing the number of resources required, and lowering costs — but also enables clients to experience the system using their own data, which helps with change management. All that together is what allows our Kinetic Finance Startup solution to help clients jumpstart their SAP S/4HANA for central finance implementations.

Seeing is believing, which serves as a catalyst for getting things going. The goal in creating this solution was to bring things to life so clients can see it, feel it, and touch it, versus it being a paper-based exercise. It also means clients can start by implementing bite-sized pieces or larger pieces of the new finance solution, depending on their timeframe.

Q: Do you see a shift in how companies are viewing diversity and inclusion?

Fundamentally, every company wants to have the best talent so they can make the best product or deliver the best service, and they want to beat their competitors. Diversity is not a nice-to-have but rather a necessity, because if you’re not focused on having diverse teams, you’re not focused on getting the best talent.

Viewed through a technology lens, innovation is about creativity and bringing to the table individuals with different skillsets, experiences, and points of view. This is imperative for inspiring creativity. Without it, you are effectively limiting the success your organization can have in innovating products or technology solutions. I have been able to work on diverse creative teams throughout my career. What I am seeing is a renewed energy and focus to make real change.

Q: What can organizations do to improve their diversity and inclusion practices?

Recently, I have seen organizations start having open and transparent conversations around diversity, equality, and inclusion. A year ago, it was almost unheard of in some organizations to truly have a conversation about individuals’ experiences in these areas. Today, that dialogue is happening, and my hope is that the conversation continues and that everyone can be their authentic selves every day. In non-diverse environments, if you feel like you’re the only one, it can be hard to show up as your authentic self and achieve your full potential.

During my career, in all different forums, there have been times where I’ve found myself in very diverse groups, and there have been other times when I’ve been the only woman or minority in the room. It can feel overwhelming or intimidating, but my advice is to seek to find a connection point with those whom you are meeting. When we take the time to get to know one another, we can find a connection. That also means we have to be willing to share a bit of ourselves with others.

Q: Is mentorship something you are actively engaged in, and was there someone in your life who helped inspire you to be your authentic self?

Mentorship has been critical to my career success. I wouldn’t be able to describe just one mentor that inspired me as there have been — and continue to be — many. Thank you to all of them. A few pieces of advice I would offer that I have learned from my mentors and in turn encourage my mentees to consider are:

Create a diverse team of mentors: A team of mentors can be invaluable in giving you advice and direct feedback. As you think about who you may want to ask to be on yours, think about a diverse group. I have found it helpful to ask leaders who have certain skill sets I may be trying to develop and those who may have had a career trajectory similar to my aspirations. I have also appreciated having a mix of men and women, as well as fellow black professionals and other backgrounds. My team of mentors has helped me bring my authentic self to my leadership style.

Ask for or create apprenticeship opportunities: I have had several mentors who invited me to join them for business meetings, gave me the chance to lead a deliverable or project with them coaching in the background, or invited me to their external speaking opportunities. These apprenticeship and ride-along opportunities have been some of the most valuable growth opportunities in my career.

Don’t forget to ask your mentor how you can help them, and pay it forward to mentees of your own: Your mentors are investing their time and using their relationships to help you. I think it is equally important to ask them how you can be of service to them. I also believe the wisdom and opportunities your mentors provide you are gifts, and you in turn should offer that same gift to others.

Q: Is there a particular skill that has helped you get to where you are today?

Yes. It’s continuous learning. For every project I do or leadership role I hold, I jump in and push myself outside of my comfort zone to learn or develop additional skills or knowledge. The ability to keep evolving myself through successes and missteps has allowed me to quickly continue to achieve success.

I studied business in college, receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees with concentrations in finance. Immediately after graduation, I accepted a business technology analyst position at a consulting firm, which launched my entry into the technology space. During my first month on the job, the firm was looking for individuals with finance backgrounds who wanted to learn about SAP technology, and I raised my hand, unknowingly changing the entire trajectory of my career.

In the early days of my first SAP training sessions, I thrived in the functional finance courses but struggled with the technical developer courses. I pushed myself to learn how to code by studying at night and on the weekends for months, trying to learn every single thing I could to be great at my job and with my clients. What I learned through that experience is my strength was functional finance consulting versus development. I have focused my energy on using this strength, which has translated into years of career success, growth, and fun.

Q: Do you have any advice for women out there who might be aspiring leaders?

I believe leadership is about service. If you focus on providing the best service to your customers — your clients, teams, peers, family, or friends — the success will follow. I continually ask myself if I’m providing the best service to all these individuals that I‘m blessed to have in my life and to work with, from my clients, to my leadership team, to my own family.

This is something my mother instilled in me. She passed away my freshman year of high school, but I have letters and notes she left me, and one of them has a question at the end that says, “Kelly, who are you going to serve today?” To me, that is the core of who I am, what I do, and what I think brings success.



Case Study: Alphabet’s SAP on Google Cloud Journey-Experiences and Innovations

The world’s 17th largest company, Alphabet, shares its real-life technical experiences implementing a comprehensive SAP S/4HANA landscape on Google Cloud. Learn about some of Alphabet’s key implementation challenges and how these challenges were overcome by creative Google Cloud and SAP S/4HANA innovations. Get a glimpse into the practical application of Google’s development philosophies such as “Focus on the user and all else will follow” and “Great just isn’t good enough”, and how these tenets lead to continual Google Cloud and SAP S/4HANA improvement and an enhanced user experience. Key takeaways:

- Lessons learned from Alphabet’s SAP S/4HANA journey to the cloud
- Building a “Connected Enterprise” with integrated data
- Benefits of running SAP workloads on Google Cloud

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